Oliver Haslam has been writing about phones, computers, games, and anything else that takes a battery or plugs in for more than he'd like to admit.
With a focus on mobile and laptops, Oliver is never too far away from whatever social network is trending today and is never short of an opinion to share.
ExpertiseApple, phones, laptops, smartwatches, mobile accessories, gaming, apps
Good security goes beyond having a couple of cameras in your home. With cybercrime rates on the rise, it's more important than ever to protect yourself in the digital world as well. And one of the easiest ways to prevent your sensitive data from falling into the wrong hands is with a VPN, or virtual private network. VPNs create encrypted connections between your devices and the internet, which keeps your passwords, browsing habits and more away from prying eyes. We've already tested out some of the best VPNs available in 2023 to help you find a service you can trust, and to help you get signed up for less, we've rounded up the best VPN deals you can take advantage of right now below.
There are plenty of good reasons to use a virtual private network. For example, did you know your internet service provider amasses as much data as possible on your digital activity? A 2021 Federal Trade Commission report noted that the leading ISPs have gathered user data on topics as personal as race, sexual orientation and real-time location. They've combined it, cross-referenced it and shared it with third-party partners. Yikes.
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Thankfully, a VPN can help protect you from such pervasive data-gathering practices. In addition to hiding your internet activity by providing a secure and private "tunnel" to your online destination, a VPN can also let you virtually move your location to a different city or country -- a nice bonus if you're looking to get around local censorship laws or try out different slates of streaming media offerings in different locales.
An important thing to keep in mind is that free VPN services aren't worth the risk. For the most part, they're playing that same game of scooping up and selling your data. The good news is there are some great VPN deals available right now, with prices starting at what amounts to less than $2 a month if you prepay for a year or two of service. We've tested a bunch of the market leaders and pulled together our recommendations for the best VPN deals. Just keep a few things in mind:
Some of these offers have countdown clocks saying that the VPN deals are ending "today." These are usually marketing tactics that have no relationship to the deal's actual end date.
We'll update sale prices when we notice a change, so be sure to check back often.
Most of these offers below are for subscriptions of two years or more, which is a long time to tie yourself to a service that could change ownership (see above) or terms of service, or even have a security incident. Though most services have a 30-day free cancellation policy at the start, be sure to check the terms of service before signing up for a long-term commitment.
VPN deals: Tested and recommended
The VPNs in this first group are also among our current top six best VPN picks. We can broadly recommend them -- albeit with the noted caveats. That said, the fast-changing ownership landscape in the VPN space may continue to shake things up, but we'll continue to update this as we uncover more.
Surfshark is a relative newcomer to the VPN space, but it's quickly become known for its speed, which is why it's one of our VPN experts' top picks. Surfshark also supports unlimited devices, which is great for large households. If you pick up 26 months of Surfshark VPN right now, you'll pay only $2.30 a month, billed at $59.76 upfront. Keep in mind that this deal is for two years of service with an extra two months of "free" access, which just drops the overall cost per month lower. Note that Surfshark merged with rival NordVPN last year, though the companies have thus far continued to operate independently. Read our Surfshark review.
ExpressVPN still tops our list of the best VPNs, and you can make a bit of a saving on a subscription by going for its 12-month plan, where you'll snag an additional three months of service for free, dropping the equivalent monthly cost to just $6.67 (billed as $99.95 upfront). Again, those three months of "free" access just drops the overall cost per month lower, but spreads the savings out over the longer term of 15 months. We evaluate VPNs based on their overall performance in three main categories: speed, security and price. Express isn't the cheapest, but it's among the fastest and, so far, is the most secure -- even after its acquisition by Kape Technologies. Read our ExpressVPN review.
An industry heavyweight and still one of CNET's top picks, NordVPN is discounting the two-year subscription for its Standard plan by 61%. That means you'll pay the equivalent of $3.19 per month (billed at $86.13 upfront) for 24 months of service plus three months free. The one-year plan is also discounted, though not as steeply, at $4.99 per month. (Note, again, that NordVPN and Surfshark merged last year but have continued to operate autonomously so far.)
PIA, or Private Internet Access, earned a spot on our list of the best VPN services of 2023 as one of our favorite budget options. And right now, you can get signed up for even less. The two-year plan is currently 82% off, and includes two free months, which drops the price down to just $2.19 a month for your first 24 months. After that, it will renew at the standard price of $56.94 annually.
Despite its affordable price, PIA's VPN tested fairly well in our tests. It offers AES 256-bit encryption as well as a kill switch function and boasts a respectable speed loss of just 24%. It's worth noting that PIA does fall under US jurisdiction, which may be a concern if you're a security-focused user, though the company appears to be doing everything in its power to alleviate those concerns, including making its source code openly available. Read our PIA VPN review.
With one of the best user interfaces in the field, according to our reviewer, IPVanish is good for those who want to be able to customize settings and those who are new to a VPN. If this is your first time at the rodeo and want to know more about the technology, IPVanish is a reliable service with a gentle learning curve. Normally IPVanish goes for $90 a year, but this deal gets you two years of IPVanish for only $71.76 ($2.99 per month). However, if you want to save without a multiyear commitment, there is a discount on the yearly plan, so you can sign up for 12 months for $41.88 ($3.49 per month). Note that IPVanish is owned by US-based Ziff Davis, which may be a concern if you're a security-focused user. Read our IPVanish review.
Go off the grid with ProtonVPN for $4.99 a month, good for two years. Keep in mind that this deal is billed as two years for $119.76. ProtonVPN Plus (the paid plan) has no data caps or server switching limits. Its ease of use, Tor support and ad-blocking feature make ProtonVPN a favorite with many users. You may also opt for the single-year plan at $5.99 per month (billed at $71.88). To access the biggest savings, choose the two-year plan option. Read our ProtonVPN review.
We either haven't fully tested the following VPNs, or have only tested them anecdotally. Thus we can only recommend them for casual use, such as bypassing geographic restrictions while streaming media.
PureVPN presents another affordable option if you're in the market for a simple VPN without a big price tag. With a solid server fleet numbering over 6,500 in 78 countries, PureVPN promises reliable service, although we haven't had the chance to verify. Another thing to disclaim here: PureVPN was reported on by our sister site ZDNet as having provided timestamp-only logs to the FBI in a cyberstalking case back in 2018. PureVPN has since stopped the timestamp logging practice and undergone a third-party audit to ensure that it keeps to its no-log policy. Its two-year standard plan is currently discounted by 82%, which drops the price to just $2.29 a month for the first 24 months ($54.95 upfront). If you don't want a multiyear commitment, you can still save 70% on a one-year standard plan, which drops the price to $3.74 a month ($44.95 upfront)
Atlas VPN is a budget VPN aimed at casual users whose main requirements are video streaming and P2P file sharing. It has all the features you would expect from a VPN, such as strong encryption, a no-log policy and a network kill switch. Atlas VPN's server fleet is currently stated to be around 700 across 28 countries, which is smaller than those of the major VPN providers. The service was acquired by rival NordVPN in 2021, so that may involve terms of service changes going forward. However, since we already like Nord, we're hoping this is a step forward, not a step back. (Atlas offers a free version, though we always suggest you steer clear of those.) Use code BIGDEAL at checkout to get 27 months of Atlas VPN for about $1.82 a month ($49.21 upfront). Keep in mind that this deal is billed as two years of service, but the three "free" months drop the cost per month lower, spreading the savings out over the longer term of 27 months.